Following 20 years of research and eight months of restoration work, the frescoes have recovered the brilliant blue of their skies, the golden halos and the dark hues of maternal tears that distinguish this pictorial ensemble, considered one of the highest expressions of Medieval painting.
The masterpiece includes 103 biblical scenes depicted in 900 square meters of frescoes painted over three years (from 1303-05) by Ambrogio Bondone (1267-1337), who passed into history as Giotto, the renowned artist of the frescoes of the Basilica of St. Francis in Assisi.
The restored frescoes in Padua were presented officially in a public ceremony March 18, attended by Italian President Carlo Azeglio Ciampi. They will open to the public next Monday.
Because of its great size, the pictorial work of the chapel, commissioned in 1300 by banker Enrico Scrovegni, cannot be viewed as a whole. The visitor must follow Giotto´s history of Christ as though it were a cinematic sequence.
The entrance wall depicts the Universal Judgment. The side walls and the arch of the apse recount the history of Redemption in 38 scenes, outstanding among which is the Crucifixion, with Virtues depicted on the right, and Vices on the left.
Giotto was assisted in this mature work of art by his students. He was successful in offering a vision of the world at the beginning of the Renaissance that grafted the new onto the roots of the old. Thus he affirmed the new era, and expressed in painting the Christian idea of "already but not yet."
With his detailed facial expressions and experimental use of color and design, Giotto reflected extraordinary depth and the triumph of perspective, far surpassing the preceding two-dimensional painting.
When the Scrovegni Chapel opens its doors, a maximum of 25 people will be able to view the frescoes at any one time, for 15 minutes, in order to reduce the condensation caused by breathing.